as many of you already know, emma has low muscle tone - a trait common to individuals with Down syndrome.
her muscle tone impacts her ability to tackle and accomplish a whole slew of things from eating to drinking to sitting to standing to, well, you get the picture. i've written about it copiously in past blogposts - even as recently as here and here.
emma had a follow-up feeding consultation today with a feeding specialist who works with children with low muscle tone. we recently requested an increase in those visits because of emma's relatively slow progression in drinking out of a straw or cup and eating more solid foods, particularly when that food is somewhat dry or chunky in its consistency.
after watching emma eat breakfast - a bowl of oatmeal with fresh strawberries and bananas and soy milk (she can't drink regular milk because she is milk protein intolerant) - the feeding specialist gave us various recommendations on how to stimulate emma's mouth muscles for eating and drinking prior to feeding her.
she also gently suggested that we were, perhaps, overly health-conscious by preparing emma's meals and snacks from fresh fruits, fish, and vegetables and whole grain-based foods. she suggested canned fruit (it's softer) and white bread (which is easier to masticate than whole wheat) and other "enticing" foods that motivate a child - even Cheetos, she said.
so, i listened attentively and agreed to find more "snack" foods for emma's twice-daily snack time that she might find more interesting than the dried fruit, fresh fruit, and other similar items i've attempted to use to exercise her mouth muscles and build her strength while still enjoying a yummy snack.
i went straight away to Whole Foods on a mission. after scouring the isles, i found organic, non-sugar teething "biscuits," puffed (brown) rice cereal also without sugar, vegetable puffs that should melt in her mouth after a while and that she can eat because they aren't made out of any dairy products, and some fairly soft soy cheese that i thought i could cut into tiny chunks for her to try. and, i bought my tried-and-true fall-backs like fresh pears, organic apple sauce (no sugar added), avocado, whole wheat pita bread, and hummus. however, none of those really require much chewing at all, with the exception of the pita - and, even still, it's thin and i give her tiny bites.
so, as you can see, i didn't go the route of bleached white bread or canned food. and, i just. can't. do. Cheetos.
stay tuned, though. i've learned to never say never. (though, i'm fairly certain my hubby will say never if i ever feel swayed). and, i am open to trying a number of things to ensure our little apple cheeks mcgillicutty has all of the types of food she needs to develop her feeding skills properly - i just want to make sure we've exhausted all the healthy food first, before we go the route of say, the Cheetos.
how about you? if you have a child with low muscle tone and feeding issues, what (healthy) foods have you used to build chewing/swallowing strength (while providing nutrients)? any recommendations? or do you foresee Cheetos in our near future?!